In the introduction post to this series, we reviewed and answered some common questions regarding stretching, including why, when, how, etc. Click here to review it.
In this post we will be talking about stretches specifically for the side of the hip. This includes the gluteus medius, the IT Band, and the TFL (tensor fascia latae). There are two main stretches for this area. The first is to loosen up the overlying IT Band and glute medius and the second stretch in the video is a two parter that works on the ITB, but also the TFL and hip flexor/quad.
1) Stretching should NEVER hurt. The goal is to only go until you feel a pull in the muscle. It should not be to go until it hurts in one of those “no pain, no gain” efforts. It should be comfortable and repeatable, allowing you to move a little further with each repetition.2) Perform stretches when the muscles are warmed up. This can be following a workout or following work with the foam roller. Click here to review the self massage post for the side of the hip (this includes pictures and video using a foam roller and tennis ball to review 3 self muscle release techniques).
2) Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times. You can hold longer than the 20 seconds, but the reps are key. You will always get more out of stretching frequently versus one killer session a week.
3) If hurt- be sure to stretch the opposing muscle groups. For the side of the hip, this means the front of the hip (psoas, hip flexors, etc), back of the hip (glutes, piriformis, external rotators), and inner thigh (adductors). If it is too painful to stretch out the side of the hip do to injury, focus on these groups instead and work your way up to stretching the injury itself. Always start at level 1 and work you way up.
Level One: Standing.
How to do this stretch: Start by standing up straight. From here cross one foot over the other like the picture above. The whole stretch follows this first move. You going to push out your hip out in the SAME direction. So if you cross your right foot over left, you’re going to push your hip out to the left. (example- if you want to stretch your right hip- cross your left leg over your right and jut your hip out to the right). Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch to the other leg. repeat 3-4 times.
Technically this is a low back stretch, but I can always feels a good IT stretch with a little modification so I’m going to include it in here. 🙂
How to do this stretch- start by laying flat on your back. Rotate one leg over the other like the picture above and keep your shoulders down. You want to keep the knee straight as a board (since the IT crosses the knee joint) and drop it down towards the floor!!! That will give you the stretch to the outside of the hip and IT, not how high up you can bring your leg. Just clear the other leg and drop it down (you may need a higher surface versus the floor if you have good flexibility) until you feel a stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times.
Same idea as the stretch before, except this time, we’re bringing the leg back and down versus forward and down. For this you’ll want to start on your side on a raised surface (bed, couch, etc). You’ll want to hold on for balance. From here, keep the knee straight and bring the leg back. Lastly, let it drop down below the other leg until a stretch is felt in the outside of the hip. If your IT is tight enough, you may even feel it all the way down to the knee. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times.
Level Four: Combo stretch. This one targets the IT Band, TFL, and the quad/hip flexors. Great way to hit a few areas all in one move.